Genesis 41:51 & 52 (ESV):
"Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh for he said God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house. The name of the second he called Ephraim, for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."
Jesus, forgetting and fruitful…they go hand in hand. To be able to move into the future, I need to let go of the past, both bad and good. I am not aware of anything from my past that is preventing me from going forward into a fruitful future. If there is, please show me what it is so I can be released from it.
Use the past as a guide-post, not a hitching post. Your past is just that…your past. Learn from it, thank the sovereign God for it, but don’t be a slave to it. There are both good things and not so good things in your past. If you continue to dwell on either of them, it keeps you from focusing on the present and planning for the future. Your past may describe you, but it need not define you.
Paul makes an interesting observation in Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV):
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is sharing an amazing insight, that in order to move ahead toward all that Jesus has for him, he must let go of the past. Forgetting does not mean you no longer remember, but rather than you choose not to dwell on or inordinately focus on the past.
In the naming of his sons, I see Joseph doing essentially the same thing:
- Manasseh…for God has made me forget my hardship and my father’s house
- Ephraim…for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction
Here is the application for my heart and yours. To experience a fruitful present and future, I need to let go of a painful past. Many of us have experienced unbelievable pain in a variety of ways and our enemy wants to keeps us chained to those memories to prevent us from experiencing all that Jesus has for us.
In the movie Forest Gump, by way of explaining his three-plus years’ run, he says, “My mamma says that you have to put the past behind you.”
Jesus, by your spirit, and for your honor, enable us to do that…to put the past behind us so that we can be fruitful for you…amen!